Famed election prognosticator Nate Silver puts the odds of the Democrats taking over the House of Representatives at 84.6%.
Wait, you ask if this is the same Nate Silver who puts the odds of Hillary Clinton winning the White House at 71.4%?
Yes, yes it is.
So, one place you can not take that prediction is the bank.
Democrats have been solidly in the lead in generic polls that measure which party, Democrat or Republican, people say they’re going to vote for on November 6. But like Silver, those polls are often wrong. And the double-digit margin has suddenly closed as Election Day nears, with Democrats holding just a 3 or 4 point lead with less than two weeks to go.
The Associated Press, as liberal a news outlet as you’ll find out there, is now getting worried.
“In the closing stretch of the 2018 campaign, the question is no longer the size of the Democratic wave. It’s whether there will be a wave at all,” the AP writes.
Top operatives in both political parties concede that Democrats’ narrow path to the Senate majority has essentially disappeared, a casualty of surging Republican enthusiasm across GOP strongholds. At the same time, leading Democrats now fear the battle for the House majority will be decided by just a handful of seats.
“It’s always been an inside straight, and it still is,” Democratic pollster Paul Maslin said of Democrats’ outlook in the Senate, where they need to pick up two seats while holding on to several others in Republican-leaning states to seize the majority. “If it had been a different year, with a different map, we might have had a terrific sweep. That would be a long shot.”
Top pollsters and prognosticators cite the contentious confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in which Democrats sunk into the muck with dirty tricks and scurrilous accusations that were never proved. Republicans who may have been content to sit out the congressional elections in a midterm year were suddenly pumped to vote, and the enthusiasm is changing the outlook daily.
“Republican enthusiasm doesn’t quite equal the white-hot enthusiasm of Democratic voters, but the Kavanaugh hearings got it pretty close,” Republican consultant Whit Ayres told the AP.
Democrats across the country — led by House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Sen. Chuck Schumer — are vowing to block Trump’s agenda and issues subpoenas to investigate alleged scandals if they take the House. Some, like Rep. Maxine Waters, pledge to push to impeach the president as others say they’ll raise taxes and eliminate Trump’s first-term cuts.
Still, Ayres expects the GOP to hold the Senate — maybe even pick up a seat or two to its current 51-49 edge.
He also attributes the party’s strong position on an unusual Senate map. Democrats are defending 26 seats of the 35 seats in play, including 10 in states that Trump carried in 2016. Ayres calls it “maybe the most Republican-leaning map of our lifetimes.”
In the House, Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to take control, but even that is up in the air now, despite a clear advantage on paper.
Even the hyper-liberal New York Times is starting to get nervous.
While Democrats remain favored to pick up House seats in the Nov. 6 midterms, which historically produce losses for a president’s party, many of the 70 most competitive House races are now exceptionally close. Polls show a majority of registered voters lean Democratic, and Mr. Trump’s favorability ratings dragged along the low 40s before rising in recent weeks. Democratic turnout could continue to break records — yet it could also be concentrated in predictable Democratic strongholds rather than crucial swing districts.
Lost in all the talk about a Democratic blue wave is a set of sober reality checks — from the quantifiable to the emotional — that may help Republicans reduce their losses, and possibly even retain their 23-seat majority.
In many neighborhoods with key House races, daily life is pretty good. Unemployment is at a five-decade low. Confidence is spilling over among consumers and businesses. The economy is on track to grow at its fastest pace in years.
What’s more, President Trump’s approval rating is at its highest point ever, even topping former president Barack Obama’s rating at this point in his first term.
Plus, in a Gallup poll three weeks ago, Republicans’ enthusiasm had risen to that of Democrats. “Sixty-one percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners and 58% of Republicans and Republican leaners say they are more enthusiastic about voting in November compared to prior elections. These levels roughly match Republicans’ record-high enthusiasm in 2010, Barack Obama’s first midterm, when the GOP won a whopping 63 seats. But this is the first time in Gallup’s trend since 1994 that both parties have expressed high enthusiasm,” Gallup reported.
And things are changing fast. With more than 10,000 migrants marching through Mexico to attempt to enter the U.S. illegally — clearly orchestrated by Democrats as an “October Surprise” — Americans are paying attention. Republicans, including Trump, decry the march, but Democrats have remained silent, essentially acquiescing to illegals entering America.
Silver may turn out to be right — he’s the math guy, after all — but he wasn’t last time, and things sure are looking like 2016 all over again.